What are the individual advantages of mobile and facial recognition, and which one is likely to come out on top now that access control is embracing touchless technology? Gareth Robinson, Access Control Product Manager at 2N, discusses.
Physical access control technology has been evolving at breakneck speed over the past few years. Much of the innovation in the sector has focused in two areas – mobile technology and biometrics (including facial recognition) – with companies placing bets on which they believe will grow fastest and even, potentially, emerge as the clear winner.
For customers looking to upgrade their access system to a ‘keyless’ solution, the choice can be confusing, so what are the advantages of both?
Mobile’s staggering growth
The growth of mobile credentials is probably unsurprisingly given how ubiquitous smartphones have become, but the rate is still extraordinary nonetheless. In 2018, annual downloads of mobile credentials reached 4.1 million worldwide. Within just three years, IHS Markit predicts that the number will have reached over 120 million.
There are various drivers behind this phenomenon, but the most important is convenience. For the user, it means being able to access their building using their phone without needing to carry additional cards/fobs. Mobile credentials are also not ‘sight’ dependent, so are well-suited to residential buildings where people may be coming and going in the dark, and where access is requested from a vehicle.
They’re convenient for the administrator too, as credentials are very easily replaceable if a phone is lost or stolen (which may not be true for biometric data, since a face or fingerprint doesn’t change).
Mobile credentials are also a smart choice for administrators that need access control throughout a building, not just at the main entrances which are equipped with video intercoms. Bluetooth readers are relatively inexpensive and can easily be deployed to control access to individual rooms or zones.
Facing the facts
Facial recognition technology initially grew around identity detection and tracking in high-footfall or public spaces. In recent years, however, we’ve seen it increasingly used in physical access control, especially at the entrances of large commercial spaces which have a large number of people entering and exiting throughout the day.
Technological developments continue at a brisk pace, so the overall reliability – which has been an issue, particularly identification bias around race and gender – is improving. The technology is also becoming more affordable.
Facial recognition is, however, facing some non-technological challenges too, not least regulatory changes governing its use which have recently been made in many territories across the globe. Complying with GDPR obligations is a complication as well, with people having the right for their personally identifiable information to be deleted or ‘forgotten’.
A battle with only one winner?
Some major companies are focusing their R&D spend on one technology over the other. For example, 2N – a global leader in IP access control systems – has prioritised mobile, with a suite of products in that area – but each solution has different strengths. As a result, it seems likely that the two will continue to thrive by meeting different needs.
Only time will tell, but one thing does seem clear: the pace of innovation in this sector will benefit customers, whatever their specific needs may be.
Get more details about 2N’s range of access control products by clicking here